Photo courtesy of B.A.D. Wingz
As the Twin Cities mourns the beloved restaurants and bars that were shuttered due to COVID-19, we have a whole bunch of new establishments to welcome to the food scene.
I moved from my hometown outside of Milwaukee to the Twin Cities in 2015, and I very quickly discovered that I found my forever home. But when I accepted a new full-time job in Madison, Wisconsin, back in January, I had to temporarily leave my beloved cities. Because of COVID-19, I’ve been working remotely at said full-time job since March, and I was able to move back to the Twin Cities in September. While returning gave me an immediate sense of calm—I was finally home!—it also left me with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I was only gone for about nine months, but so much changed within that time. Following protests in response to the police murder of George Floyd, buildings were burned down, and there are messages of mourning, grief, and hope sprayed across the ones that remain. Soon after I moved back, I visited George Floyd Square. Several months after Floyd’s killing, the grief is still tangible. Our cities are in an immense amount of pain, and you can feel how deeply that pain is felt by driving or walking around the neighborhoods.
While we’ve had to confront our long history of racism in the Twin Cities, we have also been facing the many struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this, Minnesota’s cases and deaths are on the rise, and many folks are having to make the difficult decision to forego holiday plans this year. Many of our treasured restaurants and businesses have left us, too. The year 2020 has certainly taken its toll on the Twin Cities, exposing our weaknesses and forcing us to rebuild. But the good news is, despite all that we have lost, our communities are coming together like never before to create a future that is even better than our past.
Here are some establishments that we have lost in 2020, as well as some new ones that we have to look forward to in 2021. Whether we are able to enjoy these new spots in person next year, or need to continue ordering delivery or curbside pickup, let’s look into the year ahead with hope—and empty stomachs.
We lost this iconic Mexican restaurant, located in Stadium Village, early during the pandemic. For me, personally, this was a tragic loss. Bar Luchador was where I spent much of my time as a student at the University of Minnesota. It’s where I would go for happy hour specials with friends and classmates. It’s where I enjoyed some of my first dates with my partner. It’s where I ordered my first legal margarita. It’s where I would fill myself up on veggie tacos and chips and guacamole. For students and alumni of the University of Minnesota, the loss of Bar Luchador was a big one.
I’m convinced that the closing of Ginger Hop was a loss for everybody. I mean, it truly had everything. From its delicious spring rolls and banh mi to its long list of burgers and seafood options, Ginger Hop was a mix of flavors—each better than the last. Whether you enjoyed a meal on the sidewalk on a warm summer day, gathered in a cozy booth with friends and family on a snowy evening, or simply enjoyed its basement club, Honey, which has also closed, you surely have some good memories of Ginger Hop.
Fuji Ya will forever hold a special place in my heart. This is where I went when I wanted to treat myself to absurd amounts of sushi. It’s where I spent a couple of anniversaries with my partner, where I made my family try sushi for the first time (let’s just say they’ll be sticking to cooked meats…), and where I celebrated New Year’s Eve in 2018. Fuji Ya was an Uptown staple for all sushi lovers, and it will be greatly missed.
The 508 Bar + Restaurant
Tucked away in the Warehouse District, The 508 Bar + Restaurant was a go-to downtown spot for a quick bite to eat or cocktails with friends. It’s where I made a tradition with my best friend of celebrating International Women’s Day over shared appetizers and cocktails every March. It was cozy, always bustling, fun, and welcoming to everyone.
I absolutely hate winter. I hate cold weather. I hate snow. I hate clunky boots. I hate hats. I hate the endless layers. But what I always loved on a dreadful Minnesota winter evening was warming up to a big bowl of ramen at Rah’mn in St. Paul. The build-your-own ramen restaurant was perfect for folks, like me, who like to switch up their ramen order or try something new. Our winter days will never be the same.
The Get Down Coffee Co.
This new Black-owned coffee shop opening in North Minneapolis is focused on one thing: community. A collaboration with Dogwood Coffee Co. and Houston White, The Get Down Coffee Co. is bringing specialty coffee to the north side of Minneapolis. Evident in its name, the coffee company is much more than just a caffeine fix: it’s all about the music, too.
Located at the Cooks of Crocus Hill in the North Loop, Bellecour Bakery is the perfect spot when you’re craving something sweet. From its fresh croissants to authentic French patisserie delicacies, this new bakery will satisfy every sweet tooth. Not a dessert person? Well first of all, I’m sorry. But second of all, no worries. Bellecour Bakery also has a list of soups, salads, sandwiches, and coffee.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about wings. But I do know that fans of wings are dedicated and can spot a bad wing from a good wing a mile away. Despite its name, B.A.D. Wingz has so far made a good impression on the Twin Cities’ food scene. Plus, with events like Wing Wednesday and Tuesday Night Trivia, the restaurant is more than good food; it’s also a good time.
Gandhi Mahal’s Curry in a Hurry
You’ll know when you’ve arrived at Curry in a Hurry—it’s big, beautiful mural makes it hard to miss. If you’re ever in the mood for curry, and you either don’t have a lot of time or you simply can’t wait any longer, Curry in a Hurry is the perfect spot. I recommend the samosas and aloo matar gobi (with a side of garlic naan, of course).
Union Hmong Kitchen
The Hmong community has brought an abundant culture to the Twin Cities, and its food is no exception. Union Hmong Kitchen is a delicious spot with unique flavors that you truly won’t find anywhere else. The communal-style Filipino cooking might not be ideal in the era of COVID-19, but that’s just more reason to enjoy a family-sized meal by yourself (or, okay, enjoy leftovers the next day). Grab takeout and enjoy your feast in the comfort of your own home.